We have been getting in quite a few games here at History to Wargames podcast but I felt like something has been missing. Not in size or scope, we have recently played games from 300 to 1500 points. It also wasn’t period, Rob and I were talking about something as early as 1936 recently. After some time a figured it out, it was a campaign game.
As soon as I said it I knew it was doomed; the initial excitement about a managing a series of games is washed away when one guy gets smashed in the opening game.
Even with that said I am still working on a short carry over style campaign here at the Podcast but in the meantime I am playing my though the Advanced Squad Leader series MORTAIN: THWARTING A BREAKTHROUGH. The packet is composed of 12 scenarios recreating the major battles. This is our third or fourth game from the packet and they play well in both 15mm and 28mm.
PRELUDE TO OPERATION LUTTICH is the first game in the series and I picked out 28mm figures for the game. The Americans have a total of 6 Multi-Man counters, two anti-tank guns and some 105mm support; they are also in foxholes. That fit pretty well into two platoons of Armored Infantry with their supporting elements, from support I pulled two 57mm anti-tank guns and an FO with 105mm indirect support. The American pointed out to about 400 points and 35 BR.
The Germans were a little more challenging, they would have fit better into three platoons of infantry but since I only have two painted platoons I just upped the squads fire power with MG-42s. I also rolled in motorcycle resonance teams to help. The Puma and the Panthers converted one to one and the Germans pointed out to about 500 points and 30 BR.
The scenario was set Near La Fantay, France, in the waning light of August the 6th the leading elements of the 2nd Panzer Division made contact with units from the 30th Infantry Division. A handful of Panthers, supported by infantry, advanced on the troops of the 117th Infantry Regiment. The Americans had set up a roadblock with a few squads and two 57mm antitank guns.
Victory conditions for the Germans were to destroy both anti-tank guns and exit units off the west board edge. The AFVs and their inherent crews do not count towards the victory conditions in the original scenario but were in play for this game.
The special rules included from the original scenario were the 105mm battery would not be available until turn 3 and the American would have D6 ambush tokens to deploy at the start of the game.
Keeping with our idea to play scenarios twice, I did run this game with two sets of players. The first group were newer players and the second was two seasoned players. This first game was very challenging for the new players, with 2d6 + 2 orders and limited understanding of the German organization the attack quickly bogged down along the hedge rows in front of the American guns.
The second game, with an experienced German player was still challenging, first the was attacking a force roughly similar in size and a lacked indirect support.
The American set up was basically the same with both guns set up on their right. They were dug into a large hill covering most of the battlefield and also had two infantry squads set up about 16 inches forward of them. The third squad was on the left, with the 60 and two thirty caliber MGs covering the hedges and road. The US’s thinking in both games was the right side offered the best chance to get into open country quickly and escape off the table. The left side offered the best defensive positions and could easily be covered by the two MGs, the 60, and a squad. The 2nd Platoon was off board until turn 3.
Early Game: The German thinking on deployments remain the same in both games two; mount the infantry on the tanks and move as quickly into jumping off positions before the American opened up. The reconnaissance regiment deployed on the short edge and moved quickly down the road breaking into the open field just before the road block. (Green Arrow) Supporting infantry that couldn’t fit onto the tanks ran as fast they could on the far German left. (Orange Arrow) The Panzer Regiment, again with infantry riding on the tanks entering in from the German right also advanced forward with both Panthers heading to get into range with the 57mm guns. The Germans advanced as fast as possible, fearful of the 105mm barrage and reinforcements coming arriving; in one case two fast when a Panther with its high profile standing above the hedges made an easy target for the .30 cal. With the first burst they blasted the 5 man team and the second burst caught the MG team. Two chits for the Germans early in the game! The Puma and the reconnaissance regiment fired the first shots into the AT guns with little effect. The Germans spent most of the early game getting lined up along the hedge line and preparing to assault the US troops in the scrub in front of the guns.
Middle Game: The Americans were feeling pretty good at the start of the middle game; the Germans were still having issues with clearing out the guns and pinning down the US troop deployed in fox holes in the scrub. (Light Green felt) The Puma had been destroyed in the gun duel with the 57mm. As the Germans entered into turn 6 they had finally moved all three Panthers into position and they were lending their support to the attack on the guns. Before long one gun was out of action, one of the US squads routed to one a double pin and the casualties were mounting in the second squad. On the US side 105mm battery must have been needed elsewhere because it was only showing up every other turn. When it did show up it was causing pins on the tanks reducing the Panthers support and forcing the German player to pull chits. The US playing finally brought on the reinforcing platoon, with two squads on his right on one on the left.
Late game: The Germans had finally broken though the first American line with and assault and knocked out the second gun. As the Panthers and infantry advance up the hill they US reserve squads spotted them and open fire. Though their fire wasn’t devastating, 11 dice at the small sections the Grenadiers quickly took their toll and the German attack quickly ran out of steam on the hill.
This was a great game and illustrates the versatility of the rule set. The first is that scenarios from other games systems fit well into Battlegroup; this was something that never worked for my other WW2 go to game like Flames of War. It also shows that small games work well with Battlegroup and games with the heavy stuff, like three Panther tanks and Puma don’t guarantee victory. This game would felt very differently using the Bolt Action rule set.
I think the Germans suffered from a lack of indirect support and orders; many time they were only able to move 6 or 8 units, leaving behind the recon motorcycles and the command sections. I probably should have dropped the recon section and tossed in a mortar section.